In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on the scene of the Transfiguration, emphasizing the importance of listening to God, especially in scripture, and of sharing the Gospel with others. “And this is curious. When we hear the Word of God, listen to the Word of God and have it in our heart, that Word grows. And do you know how it grows? Giving it to others!” the Pope exclaimed in his March 16 Angelus address. “The Word of Christ in us grows when we proclaim it, when we give it to the others!” Addressing the thousands present in St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff centered his weekly discourse on the day’s Gospel, which recounts the story of the Transfiguration, when Jesus takes Peter, James and John up Mt. Tabor, and is transfigured before them and seen speaking with Moses and Elijah. Marking this passage as the second stage of our Lenten journey, the first being Jesus’ temptation in the Desert from last week’s Gospel, the Pope observed that the mountain “represents the place of the closeness with God and of intimate encounter with him; the place of prayer, where the presence of the Lord is.” Recounting the story, Pope Francis recalled that up on the mountain when Jesus transfigured himself to the disciples, “his face is so bright and his garments so white, that Peter is dazzled, so much so that he would like to stay there.” However at that moment, the Pope continued, the voice of the Father immediately “resounds” from heaven, proclaiming that Jesus is his “beloved Son,” and saying “listen to him.” Drawing attention to this command, the pontiff expressed that “this word is important! Our Father has said this to the apostles and also says it to us: ‘Listen to Jesus, because he is my beloved Son!’” “It is not the Pope who says this, God the Father says it, to all: to me, to you, to all! As a help to go forward in the path of Lent. ‘Listen to Jesus!’ Don’t forget.” Continuing, the Pope explained that in order to listen to God and take his word seriously, we have to be close to him and follow him, like those in the Gospel who “chased” Jesus through the streets of Palestine. Highlighting how Jesus did not have a “chair” or a “stationary pulpit” to teach from, but rather “brought his teachings, the teachings given to him by the Father, through the streets,” the pontiff observed that we are also able to listen to Jesus in the Gospels. “I’ll ask you a question” he inquired of the crowd gathered, “do you read a passage of the Gospel everyday?” Echoing their responses, he stated “Yes, no…yes, no…half and half. Some yes and some no.” “But it’s important! Do you read the Gospel? It’s good,” the Pope repeated, stating that “it’s a good thing to have a little Gospel, small, and take it with us, in our pocket, in our purse, and read a small passage in any moment of the day.” “It’s not difficult,” he continued, adding that “it’s not even necessary” to have all four, but just “one of the Gospels, a very little one” always with us, and “listen to it.” Highlighting the two significant elements of “ascent and decent” present in the narrative of the Transfiguration, Pope Francis explained that we need to “go aside” and “climb the mountain” in order to have silence and to better hear the voice of the Lord. “This we do in prayer,” he observed, however “we cannot stay there!” “The encounter with God in prayer drives us once again to ‘come down from the mountain’ and return down into the plains, where we meet so many brothers and sisters burdened with fatigue, illness, injustice, ignorance (and) material and spiritual poverty.” We are called, noted the Pope, to “bring the fruits of the experience we have had with God” to these brothers who suffer, and to “share the grace we have received.” Concluding his address, the pontiff emphasized that we allow the Word of God to grow in us by sharing it with others, adding that “This is the Christian life. It’s a mission for the whole Church, for all of the baptized, for all of us.” “To listen to Jesus and offer him to others. Do not forget,” the Pope stated, encouraging those present to think about his proposition regarding the Gospel in the coming week, asking “do you do it? Will you do it?” “Next Sunday you can tell me if you have done this: have a little Gospel in your pocket or in your purse to read a small passage during the day.” Pope Francis ended his Angelus address by praying that all might listen and announce Jesus with “fraternal charity,” and entrusted all present to Mary’s guidance with the recitation of the traditional Marian prayer.
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